Coding is slowly becoming accepted as something that our children need to learn. Not only are the skills of coding needed for the UK to compete in international markets, but coding is becoming recognised as a way to teach skills of logic, organisation and design. It’s even been called the new Latin.
So far so good. But there is a problem here – when I’ve taught coding to kids, while there has been a fair amount of excitement at being able to control a computer in a new way, there has been a disconnect between what they can do with code and what they want to achieve. We’re selling the idea that coding can enable them to create apps, games, and websites, but the early lessons are a real turn off form many as they learn how to make text bold, add the title to a page and open links in new windows. Even after a few weeks’ of lessons, most students are a long way from seeing the big picture of how they can use these languages to create.
This is why I am going to be working with students at the Stephen Perse Foundation to build apps directly, without any coding. Programming is really just a means to an end, just as we use language to describe emotions and tell stories. For me, the most interesting (and most difficult) part of making an app is the design and content. An app or website has to be attractive and functional, have great content, and allow the user to do, learn or enjoy something in a way they can’t do with any of the myriad apps that are already available – this is a big ask.
I’ve created a system that will allow the students to focus on the content and interaction and build apps that allow them to teach others a topic (school-based or otherwise) without any coding. I’ll give more information on the app in a future post, and I’m going to be posting regularly with updates on how the project is going, and what the feedback is from the students.
If you’ve done anything like this before, I’d love to hear from you – just leave a comment here or message me on Twitter.